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Gene’s Daily Scriptural Postings.

Reflective Bible Study.

Listen to this episode and/or subscribe on in Mark – Finale: In the first part of our annual two-part finale, discover some of the biggest insights we discovered during the first half of this past year moving through the gospel of Mark. Read the transcript: Before I forget to say it because there is so much else to share, let me wish you a Merry Christmas. As we do at the end of every year to wrap up what we have been focusing in on, we take a couple of episodes to review the year we just finished and look back at some of the biggest and most profound insights during our year of podcasting. This year, we get to look back at the time we spent in Mark’s gospel. While we do this together for these podcasts, I believe the Christmas season is a great time to step back and thank God for everything He has blessed our lives with during our calendar year that is coming to a close. Whether you are looking forward to the new year because this past one was horrible, or if you are struggling to find something redeemable about the year we are ending, be thankful that God has still given you life and breath and give praise to God even if life has been hard. As we look back on our year focusing on Mark’s gospel, we’ve learned quite a bit. Starting with our first episode looking at how Mark opened his gospel sharing about Jesus’ baptism, we discovered that when Mark describes Jesus’ baptism, we see an amazing picture that this baptism wasn’t just with water like John’s previous baptisms. Instead, Jesus’ baptism was with both water and with the Holy Spirit at the start of His ministry, and when Jesus received the Holy Spirit at the beginning of His ministry, this sets the stage for Jesus to be able to baptize others with the Spirit. After Jesus received the Holy Spirit at His baptism, Jesus lets the Holy Spirit take the lead and direct Him where to go from that point forward. When we are letting God’s Holy Spirit lead us, we may be led to places that are not comfortable, and when we are in the places God’s Spirit leads us, we can expect to be tempted. Jumping ahead to episode number 3, where we looked at Jesus healing Simon’s mother-in-law, we learned that God wants to help us because that is who God is, not because God wants more servants. If God wanted servants, He could have created millions and billions of perfect servant robots who would have no freedom of choice. God gifted His creation with the gift of choice because love requires the freedom of choice for it to mean anything – and this tells us that God loves us more than we can imagine! Moving forward to episode number 7, where the religious leaders make the claim that Jesus used Satan’s power to cast out demons, we analyzed this argument and concluded that helping Jesus give glory to God would run counter to Satan’s character. Regardless of whether Jesus received Satan’s power or God’s power, either way dooms Satan’s kingdom. Either Satan fights himself and destroys his own kingdom, or Jesus really is more powerful than Satan is, and Satan’s kingdom is doomed because Jesus’ Source of power cannot be matched. Jumping forward to episodes 11 and 12, where Jesus calmed the storm before casting a legion of demons into a herd of pigs, we learned the parallel themes that the storms Satan causes are no match for Jesus. The best, scariest storm Satan could muster ended the instant Jesus spoke. When deciding who we should align our lives with, the clear choice is Jesus. He has the power to help us face anything Satan wants to throw our way! Also, one command from Jesus sends an army of evil spirits out of a comfortable home in a man and into a herd of pigs. One command from Jesus will always send Satan away. Any confrontation Jesus has with Satan results in Jesus gaining the victory. In the very next episode, number 13, we looked at how those in Nazareth rejected Jesus. While discussing what happened, we learned that in our own lives, God can use people to share His wisdom and His truth. While we are never called to accept messengers without first looking at the quality of the message, God has a way of using sinners to help spread His message and His truth. Aside from Jesus, everyone has sinned, and this truth challenges us to look past the messengers God sends our way and to focus on the message calling us to return to and believe in Jesus Christ. Moving forward to episode 14, Mark drew our attention onto Jesus sending the disciples out in pairs. During this episode, we are challenged to remember the times when God has used us in powerful and/or significant ways, and to seek to place ourselves in situations where God can work powerfully in us again. God used these disciples to bless the towns that accepted them, and God is more than willing to use us to bless our communities when we let Him lead our lives as well! Jumping ahead to episode 18, we looked at one of the most politically incorrect actions Jesus ever did when He insults a Gentile woman who came asking for His help. In this event, we learned that through Jesus’ resistance to this woman and her request, we see a faith that persists regardless of the obstacles present. This woman is an amazing example for us to model! Love at its core is more about what we do and less about what we say. Jesus challenges us to help other people, even if culture tells us that we should be hostile or mean to them instead. As a follower of Jesus, we are called to display Jesus’ love. While this love should also include being kind with our words, it is much more important for us to be kind in our actions. Jesus was clearly kind with what He did in this event, and this was in spite of culture pushing Him to be cruel or mean. Moving forward to episode 22, we find Peter making an amazing declaration about who Jesus is just a few verses before Jesus rebukes Peter and calls Peter Satan. In this passage, event, and episode, we discovered together that everything culture told the disciples about the Messiah was focused on overthrowing the Romans and on living forever, while everything Jesus told the disciples about the Messiah was focused on a crucifixion, death, and a resurrection. In the minds of more than just Peter, what Jesus was telling them clashed with culture, with logic, and with everything they had previously believed about the Messiah and His kingdom. You can try to keep your life in this world and lose out on eternity, or you give your life in this world to Jesus in order to gain eternity. If we choose to reject Jesus because culture has a louder megaphone, then we will ultimately forfeit the rewards God has promised His people. In the following episode, number 23, we focused in on the transfiguration. In this episode, we are reminded that nowhere does Jesus promise His people an easy life free of problems here on this earth. Instead, Jesus tells us that we might add to our problems when we choose Him, but that choosing Him is the only way to survive past the problems of this life and past the sin in this world! Jesus subtly reminds these disciples that He would suffer a lot and be treated shamefully, which are both subtle hints foreshadowing Jesus’ path to the cross, and as followers of Jesus, we shouldn’t be surprised if we are treated like Jesus was treated. However, when we side with Jesus, we get to experience Jesus’ resurrection, and accept the promise and gift of a new life with Him! As our time for this first part of our two-part finale is coming to an end, let’s finish this episode by looking at what we discovered in episode number 24. In this episode, Mark draws our attention onto Jesus predicting His death and the disciples arguing about who would be the greatest among them. In this episode together, we were challenged with the truth that fear and pride in our lives can stop us from asking the questions God wants us to ask because we are afraid of what others might think of us. Many things can stop us from asking the questions God wants us to ask, but we shouldn’t let fear control our journey with God! In order to be great in God’s eyes, we must welcome, help, and serve those who society believes are last. When we welcome those who society has rejected, Jesus tells us we are not only welcoming Him too, but we are welcoming God, who looks down at this planet and sees all life as special and significant. Regardless of what culture tells you, in God’s eyes, you matter and regardless of what you might believe about yourself, Jesus came to redeem you from the punishment for your sins. I can’t think of a better challenge to end this first part of our year-end finale with, so as we wrap up this podcast, remember as we move through Christmas together, welcome those that society has rejected and spread the love of Jesus with the people God brings into your life! Listen to this episode and/or subscribe on this article on the web on it's official page: Year in Mark – Finale: Part 1

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